Today Doug had a good look at our map and it became clear that we could take an alternate route for 45 miles or so and get off of highway 324. However, it wasn’t clear if the alternate route would have hotels and restaurants or at least stores where we could buy food and water. We decided that the only way we would know for sure would be to get into a car and drive the route so we hired a taxi and went to see for ourselves. We were immediately sold on the idea. The route was down an utterly charming, almost completely level, shady, tree lined, winding country road and did I mention SHADE! We loved it. There was only one area where we questioned if we would be able to find a hotel but we were so in love with the route that we decided we were willing to sleep outdoors if needed. We didn’t bring a tent this time, just a tarp and a rain poncho that would be wide enough to cover both of us if we slept up against each other. We were so excited to walk this route. It’s just the kind of adventure we like.
On our way back to our hotel, we asked the taxi driver to take the 324, the route we were initially planning to walk. Within the first few miles, all thoughts of walking the country road were abandoned. The 324, while not even close to being level,has the most visually stunning landscape I think we have yet seen in China. Beautiful limestone (?) outcroppings rise up out of nowhere and are covered with lush vegetation. We even saw a couple of caves way high up the nearly completely vertical sides. The place feel magical. This is where dragons live. I’m a bit disappointed that we can’t walk them both but we have limited time and I have limited energy. At least we got to see the other route.
I will post pictures tomorrow or the next day of the path taken.